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Methane Discovered on Mars

17 Dec 2014, 22:16 UTC
Methane Discovered on Mars
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

NASA scientists announced
yesterday that the Curiosity rover has detected methane on the planet Mars.
The announcement, which was discussed at some length in the New York Times
and detailed in a peer-reviewed article in Science, is of extraordinary
importance.

The origin of the methane
discovered by Curiosity is unknown.
However, because of the high level of ambient ultraviolet radiation, methane
cannot last in the Martian atmosphere for more than a few decades. Therefore, any methane found on Mars today had to be made recently, and not in the distant past.Furthermore, there are only two
ways that methane could be created on today’s Mars: via biogenic or
hydrothermal processes. Therefore, either Curiosity
has actually found life on the Red Planet, or it has provided proof of a
subsurface environment that could readily support life. In addition, another
striking aspect of the Curiosity
discovery is that the concentration of methane detected varies sharply over
time. That can only be the case if the source of the methane is locally
concentrated, as a globally spread source could not cause such sharp
variations. Thus, there may be a patch of ground relatively close to Curiosity which is the source of the
emissions, ...

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